Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Man's Open Letter to SEIU

From the Facebook crew...
MY LETTER TO SEIU--- After celebrating today’s NUHW victories I wanted to thank the people I felt were most responsible for our success. So, here goes.

I would first like to thank Elesio Medina for being the most unqualified person to lead a Trusteeship. You...r lack of leadership, vision, and compassion are what motivate me... every day to lead and support NUHW.

Next I would like to thank the second least qualified person to lead a Trusteeship, Mr. Dave “stake thru the heart”, “old school ass whooping” Regan. They certainly broke the mold when they made you (thank God). Lucky for you that you were born without a conscience, otherwise the disgusting and despicable things that you do and say might actually bother you. Must be a real asset for you.

Next I would like to thank Gerrald Hudson for being a stupid, lying idiot, and a total suck up to Andy Stern, that helps us a lot.

That brings us to Mary Kay “back stabbing liar from hell” Henry. The only person in my life I have ever met that happily dips bullshit in chocolate and covers it with colorful sprinkles and serves it to you with a smile. You should open your own store in the mall, Mary.

And Anna “I wish I had a penis” Burger. Your disdain for members actually wanting to participate in their own future is so written on your face. You cringe at the mere mention of member democracy. Your lust for power and control consumes you the way the power of the ring consumed Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings. And you look like that contorted, bug-eyed freak too.

Ah but the Granddaddy of them all. That’s right, the Grand Poobah of Tyranny himself. Mr. Andrew “control at all costs” Stern. Your obtuse and narrow thinking have brought SEIU and the labor movement to the brink of collapse. Your desperate quest for relevance has blinded you to the reality that surrounds you. You are a small and pitiful man. I want to personally thank you for calling workers, myself included, selfish during our bargaining with our employer. I don’t know what world you live in, where workers who fight to get other workers who have no benefits, health insurance and vacation time are deemed selfish. It must be in a world outside your $300,000 a year Ivory Tower.

Oh, and Andy, thank you very much for mocking us at last year's convention and treating us as insignificant. That really helped us more than you’ll ever know. Again, thanks one and all. Your leadership created NUHW and you should be proud of that. You fucked up SEIU but you brought about the makings of a new and vibrant Labor movement in NUHW.

P.S. Here's your sign

Preach, brotha!!!


  1. Wow. "Anna 'I wish I had a penis' Burger." Really?! How many times has that been said of women in leadership positions?

    You want to trash SEIU, fine. I'll join you. But when you resort to cheap sexist tropes, you lose me (and probably many others).

    The only people I can think to whom that rhetoric appeals is the Limbaugh crowd.

    Guess it's one more example of AA uniting *with* the right to bash SEIU. Because, after all, the enemy of my enemy must be my friend...

    Sheez. What a downer after such a wonderful victory at Kaiser. Guess I'll go hand out at Tasty's Place instead.

  2. Considering the level of abuse that NUHW partisans have been taking at the hands of ZombieCo over the past 12 months, I would think a bit of verbal retaliation would fit the bill.

    Evidently, some people feel differently.

    Lighten up, Francis.

  3. And oh by the way, the individual that wrote the above piece is about as left-of-center as you can get and still stay visible to an armed libertarian like myself.

    Any other conclusions you want to jump to, Anon?

  4. Of couse. Because sexist jokes are *really* funny. As is, btw, your joke about shooting people who are more left-of-center than Michael Rivera. Ha ha.

    Look, nobody is saying that "verbal retaliation" is unwarranted. In fact, it's richly deserved. But there's no need to be sexist when you retaliate verbally.

    And the only one jumping to conclusions here is you. Specifically, your conclusion that the comment about Anna Burger must not be sexist b/c the person who said it is "left-of-center". Because, of course, there are no sexist, male chauvinists on the left. Right.

  5. Response from Michael Rivera

    Dear Anonymous.
    Thank you for sparking a spirited debate. Others have chosen to censor my posting rather than engage in debate on the shortcomings of my post. I appreciate your candid input. What I don't appreciate is your drawing so many conclusions about who a person is (namely me) and what their political beliefs are by one (admittedly) ignorant statement. Attacking the statement and not the author has a much better chance of enlightening a person. By attacking me personally you run the risk of distancing me from any meaningful dialogue that would help me understand your perspective in using the terminology that offended you. I'm not going to apologize for what I wrote. I think that would be patronizing and insulting to you and to any other person that may have been offended by my post. What I am going to do is endeavor to make better, more sophisticated arguments in the future that don't rely on "sexist (or any other) tropes". I'm also not going to try to convince you that I am not a sexist or right leaning. Judge me as you will. I judge others (and myself) by the totality of beliefs, and contributions to others, not by one ignorant statement or one misguided or rash decision. I believe we are all capable of evolving into more enlightened and tolerant beings when we approch people, to whom we have differences, with the hand of understanding rather than attacking them with labels.

    Michael Rivera

  6. Michael,

    First of all, thank you for responding. Others may have chosen to remain silent, waiting for it to blow over. Your willingness to address the issue head on is to be commended. Second, thank you for the tone of your response. It's not easy to hear when something we say is criticized. I appreciate the general lack of defensiveness in your post, and the constructive note you struck. I will try to reciprocate.

    I did not attack you personally. I attacked what you wrote. Not once did I comment on your character, or the totality of your beliefs. I described a comment of yours as sexist, but I did not describe you as a sexist. You are correct that I do not know you. For that reason, I would not presume to issue a verdict on you as a person based on one comment.

    However, I stand by my assessment of that comment. Describing a woman in any leadership position as wishing she had a penis is a sexist trope. It is a rhetorical device (a trope) which plays on sexist stereotypes of aggressive women as not being sufficiently "lady-like". I’m glad you acknowledge the comment was ignorant. I'm not sure what to make of your placing quotes around "sexist trope", however. Do you disagree with that characterization? Again, we're speaking of the comment, not of you as a person.

    In re-reading my comments, I believe part of your reaction is due to an imprecision in my original post. My criticism was as much (or perhaps more) aimed at Sierra Spartan for broadcasting your comment as it was at you for making the comment. My comment, therefore, about "uniting with the Right" or "appealing to the Limbaugh crowd" were not aimed at you. They were aimed at !AA! and were a reference to previous debates in which Sierra Spartan (and others) have *defended* the approach of regurgitating (without any caveat) right-wing criticisms of SEIU, or where they have *celebrated* the right-wing's blocking of an unabashedly pro-labor NLRB nominee because he happens to work for Andy Stern (despite the fact that friends and foes alike of SEIU in the House of Labor support his nomination). Of course, that debate takes on a slightly different hue, given Sierra Spartan's professed libertarian views (and presumably not of the libertarian socialist strain from which Noam Chomsky hails, given the joke about shooting people further to the left than you).

    I am puzzled by your claim that apologizing for an offensive comment is somehow patronizing or insulting to those offended by the comment. An insincere apology (the proverbial "I apologize *if* anyone took offense") is insulting, but your reaction does not seem insincere. In any case, whether you apologize or not ultimately doesn't matter much. What does matter is what lesson you take from it. You seem to be taking this as a "learning experience." Wonderful. It was, after all, intended as comradely criticism (even if sharply posed).

    Finally, a brief word about why this conversation matters (for those who are thinking "enough of this, let's get back to bashing SEIU"). All of us here are about building a stronger labor movement, one that believes in the ability of workers to have a meaningful say in their unions, and in their workplaces. In a phrase, we are about social justice. We can't, however, effectively fight for justice for the working class if at the same time we denigrate half of those on whose side we profess to fight. So discussions about sexism in our movement are not a distraction. Our activism has to keep anti-sexism (and anti-racism) front and center. And we have to be willing to examine it in our ranks (and in ourselves) as much as we note it in others. So, this is an important conversation. And it is equally important that we have it candidly, while at the same time having it respectfully, in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity (or, if you prefer, unity-struggle-transformation).

  7. The good thing about being the proprietor of the blog is that I get to have the last word on any particular discussion in the comment thread.

    Because I allow semi-moderated anonymous commentary on this blog, it's easy to do a drive-by criticism of someone's commentary or posting style, and it's even easier to come on later and follow up with that criticism with further criticism toward people who may not agree 100% with one's point of view.

    On the other hand, it takes some serious 'net fortitude to come on here and defend your views of what you have written, and to attach your name to those views, as Michael has done - especially when those views do not hue to the entirely politically correct tenor of the time that some in the pro-labor community so stridently insist upon.

    For my part, it would have been VERY easy to hit the "reject" button on the anonymous commenter who had such a problem with Michael's open letter - especially since it was and is apparent that the anonymous commenter in question does not have as much of an issue with the content of that post as the commenter has a major personality issue with the proprietor of this humble blog.

    That's fine - different strokes and all that. However, the tone of the "Anonymous" poster very nearly got comments on this blog locked down (or at least registry-required).

    The Great California Union Foodfight has resulted in things being said by SEIU staffers and loyalists to and about NUHW volunteers, good and true citizens all, that would make Michael's open letter read like a kindergarten nursery rhyme. When things first started out, four-letter C-bombs and invitations to fornicate oneself or one's maternal relative were just as common coming out of the mouths of Purple Plaguesters as was "Stronger Together."

    In a union environment, there is frequently naughty language, and we all need to be big boys and girls, and learn how to deal. And at the cost of seeming un-PC, I will not castigate anyone for blowing off some well-pent-up steam, nor will I censor an otherwise excellent piece of writing because of the presence of some blue words, nor will I allow the author to be a victim of an anonymous drive-by commenter, no matter how "noble" that commenter's aims may be, without some amount of rejoinder.

    The process of trying to overthrow the biggest union in the world is not for the shrinking violet who will search for the fainting couch at the first utterance of non-PC language. For some confirmation of that, do a Google search on UAW+NUMMI+Fremont and watch some of the videos that come up.

    I trust in the ability of the readership of this blog to be able to sort such matters out. It is clearly evident that some are better at that than others.

    Commentary in this thread is now closed.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.